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Hampton man indicted in officer shooting

By Linda Looney-Bond

A Hampton man who allegedly shot, and seriously wounded, a Clayton County Police officer responding to a domestic dispute call in February, has been indicted by a Clayton County grand jury.

Gerald Lewis Benn, 45, was indicted Wednesday on charges of aggravated battery, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, robbery, criminal damage to property, and fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer, according to court records.

The robbery charge stems from an accusation that Benn snatched a diamond engagement ring off of the finger of his fiancé. Police say the taking of the ring is what started the domestic dispute.

A Clayton County judge, in March, upheld a previous decision denying bond in the case. Benn remains in the Clayton County Jail.

Police said on Feb. 27, Benn fired two shots at Clayton County Police Officer Yolanda Shumaker, 31, when she responded to a domestic call at 1258 Pebble Beach Lane in Hampton.

The bullet-resistant vest Shumaker wore is credited with saving her life, according to Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner.

"The whole incident was an unfortunate situation," said Turner. "I appreciate the decision of the grand jury by weighing all of the evidence in this case and coming back with a decision for indictment," he said.

Shumaker returned to work in April, two months after the shooting incident.

"I'm very proud of the young lady not only for being able to do her job efficiently on that day, but also for having the courage to willingly come back to work, to continue to protect the citizens of Clayton County," Turner said.

Turner said no major changes have taken place in the handling of domestic calls since the incident.

"We enforce the fact to all of our officers that all domestic disturbance calls are one of the most serious calls that an officer responds to, and they should take all necessary precautions when answering those types of calls," he said.

Turner said Clayton County patrol officers are required to wear bullet-resistant vests at all times. "A call can go from a calm situation to a life-threatening situation in the blink of an eye," he said.

"When an officer starts in that general area [of a call], if an officer feels uncomfortable in any way, the officer asks for a back-up officer. We always send two officers whenever possible," said Turner.